4 April 2013 | Comments Off
Roger Ebert taught me how to watch movies critically and love the hell out of them.
And he said this (from the Chicago Sun-Times obituary):
“‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoirs. “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
Enjoy your day, no matter what. Be kind.
26 September 2012 | 1 Comment
From the Hubble Telescope.
4 September 2012 | 4 Comments
This is for J, who is doing a hard scary thing and being very brave.
Doubtless some of you know this story already, but it’s a good one and worth retelling.
A man walked along a beach where a storm had washed starfish up above the tideline. They were dying.
Up the beach, the man saw a little girl picking up the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the sea. She was slow, and she didn’t throw well, and there were thousands of starfish.
As she picked up another, the man said, You’re wasting your time. There are too many. Don’t try so hard. You’re not making any difference.
She threw the starfish and watched it sink into the water. Then she turned to him and said, I made a difference to that one.
Enjoy your day, and please think a kind thought for everyone who makes a difference.
30 August 2012 | 2 Comments
Recently a Jet Blue flight from New York to LAX was diverted to Denver so an unruly passenger could be taken off the plane in handcuffs. I don’t know if this happens more often than it used to, or if we just hear about it more. In this case, the world heard about it from film producer Cassian Elwes, who sat down after the flight to report the story on his Twitter feed.
Go read it. It’s immediate and tense. I imagine finding myself trapped near madness this way, seatbelted next to it, close enough to smell. It scares me. And, at least in this case, it also makes me enormously sad. Because we can be so human in our madness, so human even in moments of ultimate alienation.
I hope I never go mad. But if I do, then I hope someone treats me like Cassian Elwes treated Marco.
Enjoy your day. Be careful. And then, if you can, be kind.
29 August 2012 | Comments Off
I am fascinated lately by The Art of Manliness. I followed my nose around the internet and found this site because of some very practical posts in a series called Heading Out On Your Own. Gosh, I thought, these are great tips for anyone, not just teh menz. What’s up here?
Today I spent some time exploring the site and came across the writers’ definition of manliness, including the list of manly virtues and the question of whether women should not also be striving for them. To which they say, absolutely. Here’s the part I like: There are two ways to define manhood. One way is to say that manhood is the opposite of womanhood. The other is to say that manhood is the opposite of childhood.
I do not think the creators of the site are gender radicals (grin) nor do I need them to be. But it please me today to think that in many ways I have already achieved manhood, and I shall aspire to the rest. And friends, seriously, do not miss the “Heading Out On Your Own” Series. These are great skills for Young Men of all sexes and genders.
Enjoy your day.
28 August 2012 | 3 Comments
From Amazon UK, the “technical details”:
- Medium point retractable ball pen available in black and blue ink
- Designed to fit comfortably in a woman’s hand
- Attractive barrel design available in pink and purple
- Smooth writing
- 1.0mm tip gives line width of 0.4mm
And you have to go read the user reviews right now. Because every time I despair of people, they turn around and make me laugh my ass off with their righteous funny. And that is a good thing.
Thank you to Zack and J for the link and the laugh!
Enjoy your day.
27 August 2012 | 2 Comments
I was in email conversation with my friend Angelique recently about a visit she made to Florida, and found myself quite unexpectedly overcome by memories of the Tampa that was, strong sense-memories that came so fast I could scarcely keep up with typing them.
I asked Angelique if she would mind my sharing them on the blog, since they started as a private email. And she said no, she did not mind. She said, Everyone’s landscape is an adventure.
Here are some of my adventures:
I remember wandering barefoot in summers (the soles of my feet were like elephant hide back then!) and always getting sandspurs. I remember relentless white heat and the rattling of palm fronds in hurricanes. I remember the two weeks in December when the temperature went below 50 F and all the rich women dragged out their fur coats.
I had a friend who lived out in the wilds beyond Tampa, in a house right on the Alafia River (pronounced AL-a-phi). I spent many nights and weekends with her. She had a withered arm due to polio, but she was stronger and tougher than me and did everything that I was too scared to do. She taught me how to jump on a trampoline and how to climb a tree, and we often took her canoe out onto the river by ourselves for hours (those were the days when parents didn’t think to put GPS or leashes on kids). One day on the river, we were chased for probably a half mile by an enormous alligator. Scary. We paddled very very fast (three-handed)… but I’m not sure if we even told her parents about it.
The ants! We called the little red ones fire ants, and the black ones were sugar ants, and the big ones were carpenter ants (I don’t know if they really were or not, but that’s what we called them). And the ginormous grasshoppers, oh lord, they terrified me because they jumped. I would cross the street to avoid them.
Tampa was lovely in parts when I was growing up, and rowdy and unruly in others. Sleepy but quietly vibrant, if that makes sense. I lived at a nexus in terms of class/culture — I was educated beyond my station and hung out with a lot of wealthy kids as well as kids like my friend Diane (on the Alafia) or my friend Holly who was the Baddest Girl in 4th grade and the first of our school to have divorced parents. Her father was No Good, as everyone knew, but he was always really nice to me.
One of my favorite places as a kid was Ayres Diner, where you could get Southern breakfast 24/7. It was a favorite haunt of truckers and prostitutes and night-shift workers from the hospital.
I wrote my first poem at the age of about 7 (? maybe a bit later) in the back seat of the car driving across the Gandy Bridge at night — the long causeway and bridge that runs between Tampa and St. Petersburg. My idea of the ocean was warm and salty and full of jellyfish. I have danced like a lunatic on those white sand beaches at night while heat lightning poured across the sky like drip icing.
I have seen more roadkill than you can shake a stick at.
There used to be buzzards nesting on top of the Barnett Bank building when I was a kid. It was the tallest building downtown (9 stories? 12, maybe?). The buzzards would fly around in the noon heat while office workers sat in the shade with their lunches.
I have been to old-South juke joints and biker bars and tiny Mexican restaurants in cinderblock buildings. I’ve been to stately Southern homes. I still adore Spanish moss — to me, Spanish moss, warm dark nights, and palm trees are Florida, in a particular way. And that great big sky.
Tampa is not like this anymore. None of our childhood places are, except in the space between imagination and memory and whatever strong feelings we have taken away from our beginnings. Love. Rage. Fear. Curiosity. Determination. Hope. If we could go back and make things different in our lives, these lost places are where most of us would begin, I suspect.
When I told these memories to Angelique, she responded with this:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
(from “Little Gidding” by T.S. Eliot)
To which I say, yes. I hope I will not cease from exploration for a great long while yet, because the lost places aren’t really so lost, are they? They are within us, and we are finding them all the time.
Memories are maps. There’s a whole comment section here just waiting to be filled: so please, won’t you tell me your landscapes?
Enjoy your day.
16 June 2012 | 2 Comments
Yes, it is a Coca Cola commercial. No, I don’t drink it anymore, although I used to have a small bottle of Coke (remember those little class bottles?) and about a half a pack of Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies for breakfast as a young “adult.” It’s a wonder I have any brain cells left at all, between that and…ah, well, stories for another day (smile).
Here’s the story today:
I am a sucker for goodness and kindness in the world. People are being particularly kind to me right now: thank you, thank you to all the wonderful folks who have signed up so far to sponsor me in the Write-a-thon. I’m honored and deeply touched by the support I’ve received so far, and we haven’t even started yet! First, we have to have a party.
I hope some of you will join me tonight at the Clarion West party for the Locus Awards, at the Best Western Executive Inn near Seattle Center. The fun starts at 8 PM and ends when the last science fiction writer or reader falls over sideways. And that, my friends, can take a while, trust me…. We’ll be celebrating the Locus Award recipients and the kickoff tomorrow of the 29th Annual Clarion West Writers workshop, and the Write-a-thon. Join us if you can!
And thank you all for giving me a little bit of your life, your time and your love to support me and so many other writers in the Write-a-thon. Thank you.
Enjoy your day.
12 June 2012 | 4 Comments
When I was two or three, I nearly drowned in a California swimming pool with adults probably no more than 10 feet away. By the time they reached me, I was floating face down in the deep end. When they picked me up, my face was blue from holding my breath.
No one had any idea there was anything wrong with me. And here’s a post that explains why you can’t always tell when people are drowning (thanks to Dianne Cameron for the link). If you ever even once in your life plan to be near water, please read it.
I don’t remember that day in the pool, except maybe in dreams. But I was afraid to learn to swim for a long time, and one of the most powerful lessons of my childhood was that adults I trusted (the wonderful counselors at my day camp when I was seven or eight) would jerk me around for my own good. You know the drill: I promise I’ll stand right here. Now swim to me! And then once I was committed, once I was thrashing toward them as if getting there fast was the same thing as learning to swim, they would move back step by step.
Between this and the teacher who pulled out my tooth in the bathroom one day, I was deeply cynical about adults by the age of nine.
I get why the grownups made me learn to swim. I would have done it too. I don’t get the teacher in the bathroom at all, although I have my theories. What interests me now, from this distance, is that they all thought it was for my own good. What interests me is that the counselors lied to me over and over, and I let them because I loved them. I hated my teacher, but you know, she never lied to me once.
And yet, I will still swim to the people I love, until I turn blue in the face. Go figure.
Enjoy your day. Don’t drown.
8 June 2012 | Comments Off
…apologize like this.
Enjoy your day.